They’ll probably lose to Buffalo.
Your Montreal Canadiens most definitely will be feeling an emotional letdown when they face the Sabres at the Bell Centre Tuesday night.
The game, against a horrible team with nothing to play for, will begin less than 24 hours after the Canadiens’ heroic conquest of a very good team that had won 12 in a row and is primed for a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Let’s hope that wasn’t the last we see of Canadiens-Bruins in 2013-’14.
The postseason just won’t be the same unless these old playoff rivals hook up one more time.
And maybe, if they find themselves at the TD Garden in few weeks from now, your Montreal Canadiens will be able to use four forward lines.
Michel Therrien had a personnel crisis on his hands less than five minutes into Monday night’s game. Boston defenceman Kevan Miller ended Dale Weise’s night by crashing him into the boards, then KOed Travis Moen right out of the game in the subsequent punch-up.
As he is wont to do in moments of crisis, Therrien leaned on his veterans.
And man, did the geezers ever come up big – none bigger than the Canadiens captain.
Brian Gionta played 26:19 – more than any other forward on either team. The 35-year-old’s ToI was exceeded by only Andrei Markov’s 29:05 and Zdeno Chara’s 26:40.
Gionta’s ice time included seven minutes on the physically-demanding penalty-kill. Gionta assisted on the Alexei Emelin goal that gave the Canadiens an early lead, and he blocked four shots.
Tomas Plekanec played 23:42, including almost six minutes on the PK. Max pacioretty played 22:27, David Desharnais 19:42 and Thomas Vanek 17:38.
Despite a shortened bench, Shootout hero Alex Galchenyuk played only 12:28 through 65 minutes. Daniel Brière played 12:55 – five seconds less than Michäel Bournival.
Therrien relied on five defencemen. While Weaver earned major minutes, Douglas Murray played only 14:33, 5:21 of which was on the PK.
The list of bleu-blanc-rouge heroes begins, of course, with Peter Budaj.
Budaj hadn’t started a game since losing to Boston on March 12 at the Bell Centre. But he was 4-0 lifetime against the Bruins at TD Garden.
Therrien played a hunch. And as has been the case more often this season than the coach’s legion of detractors would admit, Therrien was right.
Through the first period and the beginning of the second, the Bruins looked like they were on a continuous power play. Budaj made 21 stops through 40 minutes, including a superb glove save on Milan Lucic.
And the goaltender got help from another hero, journeyman Mike Weaver. The defenceman played 20:12, blocked three shots and stood up to the pounding Boston inflicted en route to a 36-24 advantage in hits.
That’s nothing new. The Canadiens are outhit in every game, most recently a 37-18 pounding in Toronto.
They take a licking but keep on ticking. The team’s resilience speaks volumes about their character and, yes, Therrien’s ability to get a small roster to punch above its weight.
Despite losing Weise and watching Moen play Mike Komisarek to Miller’s Milan Lucic, the Canadiens refused to be intimidated. Alexei Emelin displayed particular valour and toughness. He was a target of the Bruins after landing a big hip check on Lucic less than two minutes into the game.
As has come to be the norm in the NHL, Emelin’s clean hit drew a retaliatory assault from Zdeno Chara. And late in the game, Lucic speared Emelin from behind – a cheap shot described as a “love tap” by the cretinous P.J. Stock, who is ruining L’Antichambre for me.
Of course, Emelin’s refusal to “answer the bell” will be highlighted this Saturday on Coach’s Corner – the more so because bashing a Russian will take Cherry’s increasingly enfeebled mind off the late-season collapse of his beloved Leafs.
Despite being outmuscled by a team that is, let’s be honest – better, at least on paper, the Canadiens beat the Bruins in three of their four meetings this year.
Spring just wouldn’t be spring without these teams hooking up in a playoff series.
But it won’t happen until the second round at the earliest.